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WHO Facts

Blindness and Visual Impairment: Global Facts

These data are uploaded and amended in line with WHO data currently released to IAPB.

According to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) Prevention of Blindness and Deafness Programme:
  • About 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision (severe or moderate visual impairment)
  • 4 out of 5 blind or visually impaired people are avoidably so--preventable causes are as high as 80% of the total global visual impairment burden
  • About 90% of the world's visually impaired people live in developing countries
  • Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of visual impairment
  • Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness
  • 65% of visually impaired, and 82% of blind people are over 50 years of age, although this age group comprises only 20% of the world population
  • Top causes of visual impairment: refractive errors, cataracts and glaucoma
  • Top causes of blindness: cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration
  • The number of people visually impaired from infectious diseases has greatly reduced in the last 20 years

This data is sourced from the document 'Global Data on Visual Impairments 2010', published by the World Health Organization, Prevention of Blindness and Deafness (PBD).

Complimentary global data on vision loss has also been recently published as part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) by the Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG) (see link below).

Click here for an explanatory note on recommendations when referencing global data for communications and advocacy purposes.

In May 2013 the 66th World Health Assembly unanimously approved the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Avoidable Blindness and Visual Impairment 2014-2019 - Towards Universal Eye Health. The new Global Action Plan (GAP) is now the most important strategic document in eye health. It builds upon and replaces previous VISION 2020 and 2009 - 2013 Action Plans. 

Also read:
GBD Graph


PDF icon GLOBALDATAFINALforweb.pdf416.87 KB
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